A sad consequence of the coronavirus crisis is: We may never view our friends and neighbors the same way again. With the onset of this global epidemic, each of them has become suspect. A potential carrier of illness. We keep our distance. We want to shake hands but avoid it. We make guarded make eye contact as we pass each other. We exchange a hesitant greeting. We are unfamiliar with social separation. These are the same friends and neighbors whose company we enjoyed a few short weeks ago. Yet today, we are wary of each other.
- A few short weeks ago, a sneeze would have earned a “gesundheit” or "bless you".
- Today, it causes those around us to take a step back.
- A few short weeks ago, we would have grabbed any old shopping cart from the corral at the market.
- Today, we disinfect the thing. Some friend or neighbor or stranger may have tainted our cart with deadly germs.
- A few short weeks ago, we would have joined parishioners in song and prayer on Sunday morning.
- Today, we reflect alone.
- A few short weeks ago, we would have shopped at the market for the items required.
- Today, supplies are stockpiled without regard for the needs of others.
- A few short weeks ago, we joined friends and neighbors, sharing a meal, talking, laughing.
- Today, we dine alone without the companionship of conversation.
We’re told that our lives will be forever changed by coronavirus. The economy may face a daunting recovery. Jobs might not reappear for certain of us. We may wrestle with this ruthless illness within our family or circle of acquaintances. We must not let a pandemic wreak havoc on the social fabric of our society. We need to reach out. We should preserve our relationships with friends and neighbors.
The time to begin is now. Pick up the phone. Send a handwritten note. Fire off an email. Zoom, Skype, Facetime, Chat . Re-kindle the dialog. Stimulate the conversation. Engage. Debate. Laugh. Share. Respond. When this crisis passes, we’ll welcome the comfort and support of our friends and neighbors more than ever.
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